Rant about working in the tutoring lab: How should I deal with this?

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  • #36
Thread paused briefly for some Mentor stuff...
 
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  • #37
Okie dokie, thread is back open. :smile:
 
  • #38
If they get banned and you get fired, is that a win? If not, you need a path that does not provoke the bureaucracy, I.e., work within the inefficient system.
 
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  • #39
Well that is apparently your job. Is there any way to herd them into a less disruptive venue?
I would keep the notebook a bit more private. Do you think it a good look to be whipping out a spiral notebook? Also I recommend a bound notebook dedicated to attempts at this issue where you keep track of the incidents and perpetrators as possible. Its not easy......
 
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  • #40
I guess the overarching advice in this thread is to keep my cool and not lash out. Easier said than done but nevertheless a necessary part of being an adult.

I want to apologize for pushing the boundary of PF guidelines in previous post.
 
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  • #41
I haven't been keeping up with this thread, but is there maybe an alternative where you switch to a private tutoring service instead of working for this (disfunctional) university tutoring service? If you could find another tutoring service with more motivated students, that would seem to be a better option...
 
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  • #42
berkeman said:
I haven't been keeping up with this thread, but is there maybe an alternative where you switch to a private tutoring service instead of working for this (disfunctional) university tutoring service? If you could find another tutoring service with more motivated students, that would seem to be a better option...

Not a bad idea. At all. In fact that is exactly what I’ve been planning to do.
 
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  • #43
PhDeezNutz said:
Solid solid mature advice here. I’m classified as temporary part time, they can fire me for any reason. In fact some bureaucratic upper person tried to terminate my position until other higher ups directly below them advocated strongly for me.

The tutoring lab opened this week and yes they’ve come in, nothing egregious yet, but still irksome.

Stay observant and keep your cool. You may be low in the administrative hierarchy but still retain several advantages over students. You are better educated and more mature, clearly more intelligent. You represent academic authority while maintaining membership in the campus community.

Use your advantages to avoid confrontation while maintaining peace in the workplace. Make allies such as the five foot receptionist. As we agree to avoid physical violence as strategy, size is not a useful selection criteria. Petite librarians intimidate unruly students with a baleful stare and a sharp #2 pencil.
 
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  • #44
I'm sorry you have to experience this. Managing disruptive behavior in an academic environment for adult students should not ever be an issue, but I get that the reality is that sometimes as the university employee you have to be the adult in the room, and your tools are often quite limited.

In situations like this, it's best to walk in with as much planning as possible. Now that you've had to deal with such issues before, you can develop at least your own personal plan for dealing with disrespectful behavior. Some thoughts on this...
  • Learn your school's Code of Conduct inside and out.
  • Document any scenario that makes you uncomfortable. Take specific notes of times, descriptions of people, details of specific things said and actions you observed.
  • Keep your direct reports informed of the situation, specific challenges that you are having and your plans for dealing with them.
  • Do not approach anyone if you feel it is not safe to do so. You have a right to leave any unsafe situation.
  • If you do feel it is safe and reasonable to approach someone because of behaviour you are observing, be professional and intentional with what you say. And do so with a specific goal in mind.
    • Identify yourself and/or your position otherwise they may think you're just another student.
    • Explain the specific reason you are talking to them.
    • Explain the rules.
    • Ask them directly and specifically what you need them to do.
    • Remind them of the consequences or what the next step is (even if that is simply you asking them to leave).
    • Generally you want to "win the crowd." Ultimately even if the people you're directly addressing don't quite get the message, the respectful people around you certainly will and this can put the disruptive people in the minority very quickly.
  • In my experience (Canadian), as a university employee, you have the authority to ask people to leave the space you are working in (classroom, lecture hall, lab, etc.) if they are being disruptive. If you ask someone to leave and they don't, then you can escalate by calling campus security.
  • Consider what factors do you in fact have control over.
    • What time of day are you required to host the tutorial labs? If you can move that from Friday afternoons, to say Monday mornings from 7:00 - 9:00, chances are you'll get a different crowd that favors the more motivated students.
    • Post signs that designate the lab time as "quiet hours while tutorial lab is in session" or something similar. It won't always work, but sometimes that visual cue can establish a specific expectation up front.
    • Consider how the room is set up. If you take away the number of tables/seats, students are less apt to spend time in that space unless they have a specific reason to be there. You could even get building services to move vending machines away. Engineer the space so that the only reason anyone has for being there is to make use of the tutorial services offered.
    • Is the room/environment clean and well organized? Again, visual cues can establish the behavior level that's expected.

Anyway, hope some of this helps.
 
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  • #45
so some updates.

Unruly loud students are the least of my worries now. Bureaucratic self righteous delusional nonsense from people with no STEM training overseeing a STEM tutoring lab is a much more pressing issue. The whole situation is bonkers.Let me explain. This could be hearsay. I’ve only talked to these former supervisors.

Two of my supervisors resigned citing differences in opinion of policy. These two supervisors are people whom I deeply respect, they both have masters in mathematics and oversee the operations of the “peer tutoring lab” where they hire students to teach other students. Conduct interviews, and proctor tests for said potential employees from the student bodies. Furthermore they are there for back up in more difficult circumstances where fellow students cannot adequately answer questions. Kind of like my roll but I don’t have the same seniority they had.
A supervisor above them (with No STEM training but a PhD in Education) emphasized that “peer” tutoring meant “peer” tutoring and wanted to resign them to more administrative roles. They contended that this was a bad idea for them not to directly oversee the peer tutoring lab.

This led to a disagreement in which both of my supervisors resigned. One of my said supervisors contended that there is a benefit to having someone there who has overall expertise in the field live and on location to which said PhD in Education asked “what’s wrong with my degree?” In a defensive manner. My supervisor never said anything about her degree but she became super defensive.Another person in a position just below her (also with No STEM training) forwarded the idea of getting rid of content tests for potential tutor hires. On the basis that she really liked this one student in a parallel program.

It may very well be that the content tests are misguided but she is in no position to determine that given her credentials.

Also both of said bureaucrats work from home, have no STEM training, yet have strong opinions about how things should work. It’s truly nauseating.

I guess they are pretentious and used to a certain station in life.

Also I don’t want to disparage people in the pure education field……it’s hugely important for…..children.

Thanks for listening to my rant.“Let’s hire this person to tutor calculus, physics, chemistry, stats, and not put in measures to make sure they are competent” ……..so progressive!!! Eyeroll
 
  • #46
Screenshot 2024-01-12 at 6.25.49 PM.png
 
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  • #47
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  • #48
I weep for the future.
 
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  • #49
Replace intelligent with competent and stupid with incompetent and the meme fits the situation better.
 
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  • #50
PhDeezNutz said:
“Let’s hire this person to tutor calculus, physics, chemistry, stats, and not put in measures to make sure they are competent” ……..so progressive!!! Eyeroll
At least some hiring managers in the normal working world, while interviewing scientific or engineering-related candidates, do conduct mathematical competency assessments, often informally, to determine if current candidate is competent. We wish even that would be an influence on your present supervisors.
 
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  • #51
symbolipoint said:
At least some hiring managers in the normal working world, while interviewing scientific or engineering-related candidates, do conduct mathematical competency assessments, often informally, to determine if current candidate is competent. We wish even that would be an influence on your present supervisors.

I’d imagine that it’s not. If it were they would have retained the two guys who have been the pillars of the tutoring lab who have conducted such assessments through testing and interviews for over 15+ years.

I get the sneaking feeling that “top brass” only cares about appearances. It’s a real kick in the pants to those of us who care about providing students with the best services possible (and making sure our hires are capable of doing that).
 
  • #52
FURTHERMORE the two supervisors that left were in charge of doing analytics through the "Accudemia" (A que system for tutoring and attendance) and using R and Python to assess the attendance and efficacy in the tutoring lab (Times signed in, Times signed out, Class Subject etc, and overall attendance).

I promise no one left in the top brass actually has the wherewithal to actually assess this via statistical analysis, programming, and extracting data.

How convenient for them (top brass)? So much pretense and not enough data or the resources to analyze it. I've seen this charlatan parade around the tutoring lab and showing it off to what I would think are "stakeholders" of sorts. Can't think of a better word. "Look students interacting with each other......we must be successful judging from this 2 minute look, praise me for doing nothing" is the overall feeling I get.

I strongly suspect said top brass bureaucrat had a crap ton of administrative work to do and was too lazy to do it herself. Tried relegating it to other people and threw a fit when said people refused (for the sake of helping students instead).
 
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  • #53
It gets even worse.......in the midst of my two direct supervisors leaving I don't know who is approving my hours in order for me to get paid. I've submitted my hours a week ago and they haven't been approved for that week.

I've been diligent about reporting my hours. They haven't been diligent about approving them.

Same said bureaucrat got on my case for not checking my email. How about you check your time approvals so I can get paid in accordance with the Law?

I'm livid and angry.
 
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  • #54
PhDeezNutz said:
Same said bureaucrat got on my case for not checking my email.
I thought you did not know who to submit hours to? Who is this "same bureaucrat" ?? Three deep breaths, please. You need to know who is doing what to whom.
 
  • #55
hutchphd said:
I thought you did not know who to submit hours to? Who is this "same bureaucrat" ?? Three deep breaths, please.

I submit my hours through an overarching system electronically. I presume she’s responsible for approving them now (through that same portal) now that my other 2 supervisors below her are gone.

My point is that I shouldn’t have to track down and pester bureaucrats to get paid for my hours.
 
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  • #56
Yes absolutely. But she may have nothing to do directly with the payroll. And she is responsible after (if) you complain to her about no pay.
 
  • #57
hutchphd said:
Yes absolutely. But she may have nothing to do directly with the payroll. And she is responsible if you complain to her about no pay.


My two previous supervisors were responsible for approving my hours previously. And now that they are gone I fully expect the infrastructure to be in place to approve my hours in a timely manner. (I.e. she (or someone else) should take over their responsibilities in their absence, especially ensuring those who work get paid in a timely manner)

I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

If the system fails without two key people, it means the system sucked in the first place.
 
  • #58
You need to understand how the windmills work before you pick up the lance and mount your trusty horse. Otherwise trouble portends.
 
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  • #59
@hutchphd I don’t mean to get angry with you. Perhaps I didn’t explain my self enough to begin with.

Long story short: if certain parts or an organization vacate then the higher ups (if they are upstanding) must take it upon themselves to fulfill those responsibilities. Especially if the law dictates it.
 
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  • #60
hutchphd said:
You need to understand how the windmills work before you pick up the lance and mount your trusty horse. Otherwise trouble portends.

I get it, unrestrained anger (and expressing it inappropriately) is not the way forward. But man it’s tempting to explode on them.
 
  • #61
Only God herself has no boss. Everyone else is under the wheel somehow. Try to figure the political landscape.
 
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  • #62
hutchphd said:
Only God herself has no boss. Everyone else is under the wheel somehow. Try to figure the political landscape.

Part of that landscape is that if I don’t get paid once a month at the very least I can sue them :)
 
  • #63
Who would you sue? Talk with that person.
 
  • #64
hutchphd said:
Only God herself has no boss.
You've obviously never dealt with a university president.
The difference, of course, is that God doesn't think he's a university president.
 
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  • #65
Moneyed alumni. Everyone has short hairs.......
God knows better.
But point well taken...
 
  • #66
cooler heads prevail. Luckily I’m not starving and I have money saved up. And eventually they will pay me (they have to). It’s just a matter of principle.
 
  • #67
Have you thought about moving on?
 
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  • #68
Its good to get all worked up about somethings.
But persevering too long on something is not good.

Some situations have no good solutions.
Maybe you need a new job.
Make a decision on a course of action and move on.
 
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  • #69
BillTre said:
Its good to get all worked up about somethings.
But persevering too long on something is not good.

Some situations have no good solutions.
Maybe you need a new job.
Make a decision on a course of action and move on.

It seems so. I applied for the vacant supervisor role and my interview is next Tuesday via online Teams but even that may be a bad idea given the incompetence of “top brass”.

I’ll need to spend time beefing up my machine learning and programming skills. Through studying the mathematical background and doing programming projects in order to break into tech.

Luckily I have the financial means to sustain myself in the long run. (Rich parents) but I don’t want to use that card……but I might have to in order to make headway into a real career.

Edit: I meant to quote @Frabjous post too but for some reason it didn’t work. This is also a response to that post.

Edit: it’s also via teams because said top brass work from home……
 
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  • #70
What exactly is your current status and what are your career aspirations?
 
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